You Didn’t Pass Your Speed – Now What?

You Didn’t Pass Your Speed – Now What?

A student recently expressed to me that they want more guidance on what to do to keep their spirits up after blowing a speed test, or not passing a speed at all.

What do you do when you don’t pass your speed? How do you handle not advancing in your court reporting school?

Since this is such an emotional issue for many students (to which I can completely relate), instead of trying to pump out huge amounts of motivation or inspiration, allow me to give you step-by-step things you can do right now to stop sulking and start PASSING on to your next speed.

Step One – Understand That It’s No One Else’s Fault

This may sound harsh, but it’s not meant to; it’s really just a wake-up call.

The absolute last thing you want to do if you are in a situation where your spirits are down because of a not passing a test or not advancing in your speed is to blame anyone else for the lack of progress.

It’s so tempting to blame your teacher for not reading the dictation properly, or blaming the test for being too hard, or blaming your machine for not writing what you wanted it to. But the God’s-honest truth is that none of those things are really the reason for not passing.

The bad news is that, yes, it is your job to take responsibility for your progress with learning steno and mastering certain speeds.

However, the good news is that you can control what you do to better this situation, and that you don’t have to rely on others to make it better for you (because you can’t control what they do).

So really all this first step is about is simply acknowledging that that you are in control of this situation, and you can decide where to go from here. It’s not about blaming yourself or being hard on your abilities. It’s about just being honest and realizing that this problem is in your hands and your control.

Step Two – What’s The Biggest Problem With Your Writing Right Now?

As you go through speeds, different difficulties with your writing will emerge. The types of problems you face with your writing in your 120’s will generally not be the same set of problems you face when trying to pass your 200’s.

If for some reason you ARE facing the same problems in your higher speeds that you were experiencing in your lower speeds, then those issues needs to be addressed immediately since it hasn’t been dealt with all this time.

But just take 20 seconds to honestly ask yourself, what is the biggest problem you’re facing with your writing when trying to pass the tests or speeds that you are?

Are you uncomfortable with certain strokes, certain theory components, or certain word beginning/endings?

Are you underperforming the most in the beginning of your dictation test, the middle of it, or the end of it?

Are you hesitating between strokes?

Do you feel like you’re writing out too many words and need more briefs/phrases?

Are you falling behind too many words while the dictation is going?

Ask yourself what is going wrong at the moment, what is the biggest issue that seems to pop up over and over again.

Once you realize what it is (and it probably won’t take long at all to recognize the problem – as you may have been avoiding it for a long time now), work on that issue NOW. Not later, but right now.

Working on the issues that are giving you problems this minute is the fastest way to drastically improve your steno-writing performance.

Step Three – Take a Breather and Get Steno Off Your Mind

If you are currently fuming or experiencing anxiety/depression/discouragement over not passing a test or not passing a speed, one thing to do is to take a break from writing. You need to get steno off your mind for just a little bit and refresh.

How long? Typically a few days (or a whole weekend) is more than enough time to really recharge your batteries and reset so that by the time you hit the machine again, you’ll be refreshed and have more mental/emotional availability to really buckle down and work on your writing.

I’m not saying that you should never get on your machine or that you should not practice anymore – quite the opposite. I’m just advising that you take a break if you feel you are on the verge of burnout or emotional exhaustion.

I have known students who sometimes took a whole quarter off because they just needed to prevent themselves from getting overwhelmed. Once they got back into class a few months later, their speed and ability to write had magically gotten better all by itself.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon, but the main thing you need to understand is that it’s okay to take a break – no matter what you’re doing. Killing yourself with constant steno-writing is not doing anyone any favors – especially you.

Step Four – Mentally and Emotionally Prepare for Passing

After taking any necessary break, it’s time to get back to it. However, it’s crucial that as you keep practicing that you are not just physically preparing for moving on to your next court reporting goal (by practicing) but also mentally and emotionally preparing for your success.

Do you really believe in your heart that you can pass this test/this speed? (Hint: The answer is HELL YES)

Can you see yourself in the next speed class or getting that court reporter’s license? (Hint: The answer is OH YEAH, BABY)

Can you take 1 minute to wrap your mind around actually achieving your next court reporting goal?

It’s so important you mentally and emotionally “pave the way” for your future success. See yourself accomplishing what you want. Visualize getting that test back and it saying “PASSED.” Imagine what it feels like to hold that court reporter’s license in your hands right now. What does it feel like? What does it smell like? What does it look like?

The more your conscious and subconscious mind are in agreement about achieving what you want, the more easily it happens for you. Doing simple things like deliberately thinking good-feeling thoughts or visualizing your success are monstrously effective, and incredibly easy!

For other secret techniques on how to pass your court reporting tests (especially your certification exam), you’ll want to read this.



About the Author:

Cale McCabe is a Texas-certified court reporter who specializes in helping other court reporting students pass their certification exam the next time they take it. Visit the website today at